Are you in the market for a new set of wheels? Car sales almost ground to a halt in the first quarter of the year as the UK lockdown took its toll. But now car dealerships are reopened, and restrictions are gradually eased, it’s time to get back on the road.

In reality lots of us already have, with road traffic already close to pre-coronavirus levels. Regardless of your activity levels, it’s important to think carefully about your next car as it could be one of the largest purchases you’re ever likely to make.

Ask the following questions to give yourself maximum confidence in your investment.

What’s your budget?

First things first is to get your priorities in order. Thinking about your financial situation, what you need from a car and how you plan to use it will help you create a realistic budget.

Consider how you plan to pay and how long you intend to own it before swapping again. Could a compact and reliable Toyota on finance fit the bill?

What features do you want?

Which features are a necessity, and which are more nice-to-haves? Safety and entertainment features have come a long way in recent years but can still vary widely between manufacturers.

When considering how you primarily plan to use your new car – in the city alone or for long family drives, for example – you may decide some are worth paying extra for.  

Can you get a good feel for it before you buy?

Even if a car ticks all your boxes from the outside, the last thing you want is to realise it doesn’t drive how you’d expected after signing on the dotted line. Book a test drive and aim to navigate a similar environment to the one you’re likely to use it in the majority of the time.

Can you negotiate a better deal?

Even with new cars you may find you’re able to negotiate yourself a price closer to the dealer paid. If considering a finance deal, it could be worth securing a pre-approved loan before you head to the dealership to see if they can beat it. Do you plan to trade in your old car too?  

What warranty is available?

Not all warranties are the same. Make sure to check what the standard option covers and for how long. Asking what the typical costs are for new tires, brakes and so on can give you an idea of the ongoing cost of ownership.

Keep these questions in mind to make sure you drive away with the right car for you.